Wednesday 30 January 2019


We chain ganged the family to help us haul our fire wood into the yard.

The truck dumped a ton of olive wood ready cut into pieces just right for the stove.  After our olive trees were 'ravaged' for their timber and Vaso's chickens were 'rustled' we decided we had better get this inside the yard as soon as possible.  Such a pity that life is changing here and we can't trust our fellow islanders

Stacking the wood at the rear of the house.  That trolley had to be pushed through our living room but I wasn't complaining.  The girls even gave the carpets a vaccum before they left

Bottoms up and down to work

Jamie throws the wood into the front yard

Half of it 'we' (they) stacked in the front and half was carted to the back yard

A rising pile

Those big blue IKEA bags come in handy for all sorts of jobs from the laundry to wood carrying

It was stacked and not just dumped.

Girls and boys did a damn good job!

Hopefully it will get us through to the end of February

Then it's Spring...maybe
You know what they say about March ... in like a lamb, out like a lion

We've had a few weeks (seems like months) of heavy rain, a little sunshine, winds and freezing temperatures.  The halcyon days of January are late.  Temperatures are due to rise this weekend so maybe sunny days are on their way

Halcyon days ...
seven days when Aeolus, keeper of the winds, kept the air calm and storms at bay

Monday 28 January 2019

Kounelaki - little bunny rabbit in the pot

I deleted the photo of the bowl of raw meat and the head and eyeballs of the poor bunny .... wild hare actually.  Shot by one of our neighbours.

My traditional Greek husband is the best cook of snails, pork and rabbit, so he was the designated chef for this gathering of stewed bunny lovers, me not included.

First skin and chop your wild hare.  Marinate in red wine with bay leaves, garlic and olive oil

Heat up your 'davas'.  The 'davas' is a wide shallow cooking pot, as opposed to a 'marmita' which is tall and narrow.  
Fry the various parts of the animal, browning nicely, preferably without burning.

Add a chopped onion and a handful of garlic.  Brown a little more and halt the searing with a glass of red wine.

Put in lots of fresh grated tomato, salt, pepper and the liquid from the marinade.  Simmer slowly till tender.

At the tomato stage you could also add a kilo of small whole onions.  The onions turn it into another favourite dish called 'stifado'.

Gather all your noisy friends and neighbours, make sure you've got plenty of wine or someone who can shoot off on his motorbike in an emergency and get some more from a house nearby.  Turn up the music and settle in for a long evening of wine, good food, good company and lots of laughter.

Leave your wife at home
Leave me alone to watch my favourite  series in the next room.  I do not run errands, serve wine or clean up.
Give the bones to the cats, the next morning

Thursday 24 January 2019

Greek Freaks

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stefanos Tsitsipas are the heroes of the greek athletic world at the moment.  

Antetokounmpo is born in Athens, the son of Nigerian immigrants.  At almost 7feet tall he became, naturally, a professional basketball player and is currently with the Milwaukee Bucks.  He is the first player in NBA history to ....... points, rebounds, assists, bla-bla-bla.  Most sports announcers have managed to get his name right during broadcasts, even I eventually got it roll off my tongue, but he is widely known as the 'Greek Freak' .

Tsitsipas is our up and coming greek tennis star.  He beat Federer in the quarter finals of the Australian open and right now most of greece is glued to tv or radio listening to his semi-final match with Rafael Nadal.  Tsitsipas has also been labelled by the Australian press as the 'Greek Freak' or should it be 'freek'?

Stefanos Tsitsipas 
( ts - think ch
Youngest player ranked in the top 20
Born in Athens, greek father, Russian mother

Raffa - pronounced 'cute'
Born in the Balearic Islands
Plays left-handed, born right-handed

Tsitsipas  lost the 1st set
Lost the 2nd set
Lost the 3rd set

Oh well

We'll be hearing more of this guy
Wimbleon, American whatever, French Open here we come

Sunday 20 January 2019

10 Years On

Ten year challenge.  

Remember a few years ago when it was all the rage for the hairbrained  to have a   bucket of ice water poured over them  and post the video of the resultant scream? Now its the in-thing  to post a photo of yourself ten years ago and another of you now.  It's popping up all over instagram and damn if it wasn't on our news broadcast last night.  After the stories of political mayhem, economic ruin, turkish harrassment, attacks on old ladies and bombing police stations I suppose we needed a little light stupidity.  I have no idea whose photos they were.  Some american actress I had never heard of.  They were really scraping the barrel for a bit of drivel

But here I am searching archives for a ten year old photo of myself which is even passable.  Back then they were all digitals on the big old (ancient) desk top computer so I've been taking grainy photos of blurry pics 

Do I have to smile??

Yeh, I was definitely younger ... ten years younger in fact

Now, I'm mastering the selfie.  Actually I'm not mastering it all and avoid the bloody selfie like I would avoid the devil ...

Far more realisitc.

Horrible hair day but great platter of shrimps/prawns!

Thursday 17 January 2019

O what a wonderful morning

17th January
the day dawned warm and sunny
so we toddled off to the little church down the road to take part in the celebrations of Agios (saint) Antonis and Agios Georgios (the greek St George)

We arrived just in time for a lecture on the lives of Sts Antoni and Georgios and the final blessing of the breads.

The service started around 7am but worshippers come and go as they please.  So informal.  Only half an hour of standing so it wasn't too tiring.  I usually get sore feet standing still for longer an am hopping about on one foot trying to give the other a rest.

I have never heard of this Greek St George whose name day is on the same day as Antoni.  He's a recent saint, from the 1800's and of course went through terrible torture at the hands of the Turks but came out smelling of roses and with all limbs intact.

Here the Priest is blessing the breads in the covered courtyard outside where most of us were standing

Icons of the two Saints and a container of sand for the candles on the left.  They had just been snuffed out at the end of the ceremony.  I enter, light a candle and find a place to stand as far back as possible.  The faithful light a candle or two, then cross themselves and kiss the icons

Inside the actual church.  There are about ten chairs in there.  The area at the front is I think called the Sanctuary in English.  Its where the priest goes about his business and women are strictly prohibited from entering at any time

This is the last of the Holy bread.  Our priest was carrying the basket around offering it to everyone, but me.  A couple of times we came face to face and he turned around quite abruptly.  He knows I'm a foreign devil!  

Her husband's name is Antoni so Kiki was handing out small sweet cakes she had made at home.  There were quite a few celebrating name days and we got a haul of sweet bread, sweets, chocolates and cakes.  This time I was ready and had a large handbag and two plastic bags to haul away the goodies.  They are pressed on you and there is no saying 'no'.  You either eat them then and there or balance them in one hand to carry  away for later.

A councillor who lives next door brought a tray of roast lamb and a couple of bottles of his own wine,  The vineyards are within spitting distance of the church ftoo ftoo ftoo.  Excellent wine and he owns a butcher's shop so naturally that lamb was just falling off the bone and very tasty.  We/I drank about 3 glasses of that rosé, at ten oclock in the morning.  Lucky I didn't have far to drive my quad bike.  We just picked up pieces of meat in our hands and a paper napkin to wipe off the fat.  The best way to start the day.

K and I were two of the last to leave, glued to that meat and wine.  The bones went to a neighbourhood dog and leftovers to the old man that looks after the church.  Yes, there were leftovers.

By this time they were telling stories of fiestas past.  Thirty years ago there were half a dozen 'Antonis' in the immediate area.  They started a bonfire at 6am and by the time the service was finished there were trays of lamb and pork hot and smoky.  Each had their own vineyard and made their own wine and brought more than enough to prove that theirs was the best in the area.

People came in hordes for these church fiestas, from Poros and all the villages across on the mainland, some hours away.  Friends and family gathered literally from far and wide, whatever the weather.  Rain or snow didn't stop anyone from enjoying themselves.

Saint Antoni looks on and I have no doubt he was blessing these people and their traditions

Brother Loukas from the monastery, it was announced from the pulpit, is rounding up numbers to travel to Athens on Sunday (after church?) to take part in the demonstration organised to protest the formalisation of the name of our neighbour to the north.  Previously called FYROM, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, it is now been officially confirmed by their parliament that they will be known as Northern Macedonia. The rest of the world has known them as Macedonia for years anyway. Who knows, who cares, except the greeks?  It's all to do with Alexander the Great.  Greeks say Alexander is Greek and woe betide anyone who disagrees.  Our neighbours claim Alexander as their own and now Albania says he's Albanian.  The Balkans are still boiling away, annoying one another and preparing for the next confrontagion.  

Monday 14 January 2019

Peas and Potatoes

Greeks don't just eat fatty pork and stewed snails.  Our menu is varied and depends on the seasons, mostly.  I blanch loads of green beans in the summertime and put bags of them in the freezer to use during the winter.  Fresh peas however don't seem to grow so well here.  We rarely find them at the markets.  It is either green beans or okra (ladies fingers).  I love peas so I buy bags of them frozen from the supermarket.  I always have some in the freezer for a quick tasty meal and I freeze bunches of dill as well because there are times in the year when it is not readily found.  Peas and dill go together here.

I always keep aside a handful of peas from the bag to add to curries and stir fries.  A few carrots and a handful of peas give these homemade dishes a pleasing dash of colour whatever else is in them.

So it's peas and potatoes today

Stewed with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil and a handful of dill.  I always use fresh grated tomatoes, usually from those I have frozen in the summer.  Frozen peas by the way take far longer than 2 minutes to cook.  

Jamie Oliver puts frozen peas into his dishes at the last minute and lets them cook with the heat from the other ingredients.  None of that here.  They need at least 20 minutes to half an hour.  Did you know peas can be as hard as bullets?  Greek peas can.  No canned peas available, by the way.  That is a good thing.  Tinned peas have a completely different taste.

Good old Uncle Stathis (Baba Stathis) flash freezes his peas and beans within an hour of being harvested, so says the ad.  Full of taste and a bright fresh green colour to all his vegetables.

We eat many vegetable dishes summer and winter.  Cabbage and rice, spinach and rice. beans or okra and potatoes are just some of the favourites.  They are served with bread, feta cheese, maybe a few olives and a glass of wine.  A healthy mediterranean meal

Thursday 10 January 2019

Greek Epiphany

Epiphany on January 6th is another important  day here in Greece celebrating the baptism of John the Baptist in the Jordan river.  The most meaningful  part of the celebration is the blessing of the waters.  All the island's important people join the faithful in the main church first for a service and then parade together down to the waterfront where most of the island's population wait to watch the happening.

Cafe tables are full and excitement runs high as everyone waits for the priests and VIPs to board the small water taxi which takes them out into the middle of the strait.

The head priest starts the blessing, throwing the cross three times into the sea.  It is attached by a long ribbon and he hauls it back in the first two times.  With the third throw a group of brave men, and nowadays a few girls as well, dive into the freezing sea to retrieve the cross.  The first to reach the cross and hold it aloft is blessed for the following year.

The boat carrying the VIPs is accompanied by local rowers, including two of my grandchildren. My youngest grandson wanted to jump in after the cross this year too but was dissuaded by his mother who was watching the weather forecast and an approaching snow storm. Maybe next year the day will be sunny and warm.

When we  know the cross has been grabbed and the swimmer identified we all drift back to the cafeterias for more ouzo and coffee.  The whole island is out, big family groups all dressed in their Sunday best. We spend much of the time in the cafeteria greeting friends, kissing cheeks and wishing everyone a great year, always with good health.  Once you get to a certain age the first and most important wish for the coming year is good health.  

Blessed water 
My sis in law always brings us a bottle of Holy water from the church. We take 3 sips the next morning before drinking coffee to have a blessed year... Uhummm
The rest of the water gets sprinkled around the house, in the corners and in the car, over the motorbikes anywhere else which might need help from powers above 

January the 6th is also the name day for those called Fotis or Fani.  Next day, January 7th is the celebration of all those called Yiannis (John) and Yiannoula (Joanna).  Agios Yiannis (St. John) is a popular saint.  'A house without a Yiannis will not prosper' is a greek saying. 

We of course have our own Yiannis and spent the afternoon celebrating with him and the family.

And that is about the end of the festive season. Schools open after St John and life gets back to its routine. The next name day is St Antoni on 17th January and then St Athanasios on the 18th.  

Then we start the 3 weeks of carnival.  

And so the celebrations continue  ........ whatever the weather or the state of the economy

Tuesday 8 January 2019


Greece has been hit by three storms one after the other, Raphael, Sofia and now Telemahos (named after  Telemahos, the son of Odysseus who fought in the Trojan war).

We've had extremely early falls of snow over most of Greece but not in the Peloponnese which is the part of mainland Greece just over the straits of Poros.

Roads from here to Athens were cut off last night by heavy snowfall along the route and even the national roads have had long closures and of course back-up of traffic.

Many schools all over the country were closed today including all the schools on Poros.  Just as a precaution.  The day dawned with temperatures of about 1o C but no snow and only a sprinkle on the mountains opposite. The sun came out but it was 'sun with teeth'.

In Athens the Acropolis and the Parthenon on top were covered in a layer of white.  That doesn't happen very often.

Another storm is blowing in tomorrow with heavy rain but with winds from the south so temperatures will rise a little.

Greek skiers are very happy campers this winter

Monday 7 January 2019

Early 2019 in Pics

A peek into January ... so far

Crocheting in front of the television

From chilling out to drinking up

I found some 2018 Beaujolais
Last year the beaujolais available in the supermarket was over a year old.  When beaujolais ages, which it apparently doesn't, they send it to greece where they'll drink anything with a french label.
Actually that last statement is totally wrong in this neck of the woods.  Locals will only drink local.  They know where it has been grown, who looked after the vines and how and what was added, or not added, to the barrel afterwards.
I'm sure Athens is a different kettle of fish.   A more 'sophisticated' society

The whisky is a good  Scottish single malt brought to us by our english neighbours who arrived for Christmas in the middle of our 'north pole' winter.   A couple of times over these last few weeks I have noticed that London has higher temperatures than us.

They also brought whisky and some good english cheddar for Vaso.  She told us about the whisky, with the enthusiasm of a connaisseur, that it was the one of the best.  

The master of the house (daughter's house) crosses and then cuts the New Year loaf.  

First piece for the Virgin Mary, 2nd for the house and then the family members from oldest to youngest.  The one who gets the coin has a lucky year.  We have so far cut two family loaves, 2 New Year cakes and yesterday the last which was a 'tourta' (cake with cream and filling).

K says the coin should be used to buy incense to burn under the family icons.  Yeh, right.  That was what his mother did.  The coin in the bread now would hardly buy chewing gum and certainly not incense.

New Years lunch.  Or part of it.  The tradition here is to cook pork with greens and thicken it with an egg and lemon sauce.  This is lamb.  Thanks to daughter and son-in-law we also had a very tasty roast duck and  pumpkin soup.  These three dishes have become a tradition for our New Years day dinner

Snow clouds come down low over Galatas and the mountains opposite

Enjoy yourself as you intend to continue for the rest of the year. 

On New Years day my mother-in-law told me you should not wash your hair, nor sew nor knit because you'll be condemned to keep on doing it for the whole year!  Yeh!~

The men party as they mean to carry on...........

Thursday 3 January 2019

Crime Wave!

Vaso has been robbed.  She has been very apprehensive these last few months after watching endless news stories of the elderly in Athens being beaten for a few euros and attacked in their own homes,  She puts a padlock on her gate when she's inside the house, not that it would keep out any serious robber.   And she watches very carefully who goes up and down our dead-end road, who they are and whether they check out the house as they whizz by.

We always reassure her that Poros is not Athens and she is safe living up here in the wop-wops all by herself, as she has for the last twenty years.  

But  robbers came in the middle of the night and took away 4 hens, a rooster and a big (female) turkey.  Naturally she was very upset and wanted to tell us all about her troubles, analyse this heinous crime and lay out her suspects for us to chew on.

She's sure there were two them with a big sack. It wasn't a dog  or wild animal because there was no trail of feathers and carnage.

But she came on the wrong day to get all our attention.  We had been 'robbed' too!  K had just been up to check our land and olive trees at the top of the island.  'Someone' had been up there with a truck, fixed up the road, 'pruned' the olive trees and hauled away the wood.  

'Someone' went to a lot of work.  Wood is an expensive commodity at this time of the year.  It wasn't long of course, in this small community, before he found out who was behind it all.

Vaso and K sat there with steam coming out of their ears, voices getting louder and more vehement with each stabbing accusation.

Vaso doesn't know the identity of her chicken thief but she has a few offenders in mind.  She can't prove anything but K hopes he can.  He has confronted the head of the gang, the wood cutter and the truck driver and been to police to file a complaint.  The wood has gone, squirreled away or already sold but he's pushing for them to clean up the land and plant new trees.  The old ones unfortunately have been 'pruned' almost down to the ground and an old spreading carob tree has been left looking like a xmas tree on the day it is chucked in the rubbish,  Such a pity. 

He could sue them for destruction of property and loss of income from the trees but it would probably take five years for the case to come to court.  
Easier for them to compensate by doing some work on the land. 
Except for the 'mastermind',  This smart arse  owned land up there once upon a time.  He sold it 20 years ago but knows that it is an isolated area.  He blames the wood cutter who cut the wrong trees but they are all the 'wrong' trees.  None are his to cut.  They must have made almost a thousand euros out of the wood.  Around here olive wood is considered the best for  firewood.

Vaso is ill and snuggling up in her bed in this freezing weather.  It was her name day on New Years day and we called her but are waiting for her to recover to go up and have a few glasses of raki with her and discuss this terrible business once again.

We are in the grips of storm Raphael.  Snow is covering the hills around Athens and we heard it was snowing on the next island of Aegina.  I keep peeking out the window hoping to see a snowflake here.   It is very early in the year for such bad weather.  Climate change!

Actually I see this is a second storm named Sofia. She'll be hanging around for a few days. We've got enough firewood, olive wood but not our own.  Hope the raki holds out!